Monday, March 21, 2011

latest on Japan

Haven't been able to concentrate on music these days...Of course, I still do listen, everyday.

The latest CD I bought was Mission Bell by Amos Lee...still haven't put in my i-phone yet...

For some of the latest Japanese songs, please check out my other blog here:

Monday, May 25, 2009

I wish I had a picture...

There is a Bon Jovi slot machine in Japan now...

Unless you know what a pachinko parlor is you are probably wondering why there are slot machines in Japan (especially when gambling is actually "against the law").

Check out the Bon Jovi slot machine site here.

I actually met Richie Sambora once...which is why the title of this post is "I wish I had a picture" because I didn't take one...grrr.

New stuff

I haven't listened to them all but I am pretty happy with my new stack of CDs...some of which are shown above.  

HOWEVER, I'm gonna be honest... 

I haven't found anything new that really moves me.  

Everything is nice.  Nicely packaged,  nicely promoted, nicely recorded, but nothing grabs me the way music used to.

I hope this is just a faze, because music has been the vitamin of my soul for such a long time.  I'll suffer from malnutrition if this goes on.

In the meantime...I did get something that makes me smile big time.  

Tickets to Simon and Garfunkel's concert to be held in Osaka in July.
Yep, they are concerting together and I will be there to witness it.

This will be my second time to see them perform.  I am extra happy though because of this music draught I am experiencing. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

lucky me

I have been very lucky in life...I suppose.  I have had jobs in the past that bestowed upon me "free stuff". 

When I worked at a bookstore/publishing importer, I got a bundle of copies (I miss this...) and when I worked in the radio business I got lots of sample CDs.  Some of the CDs were like this:
This is the latest promotional sample CD by Warner Music Japan.  (This CD is NOT for sale.)

Sample CDs are not always filled with the latest releases.  Sometimes they have old hits to help remind people in the media of upcoming concerts or other events of "promotional value".

Here are a few of my favorites from this CD...Green Day's new song (that goes on sale in Japan tomorrow) "Know Your Enemy", Keziah Jones "My Kinda Girl", Alain Clark "Father and Friend", Jack Penate's "Tonight's Today" is rather interesting too.

Sweetbox has a new singer...the prior vocalist for Sweetbox (till 1996) was Jade Valerie.  
I remember meeting her when she started her solo career.  She was so sweet (no pun intended) and I hope that she will continue to release new albums.  (I think she is working on releasing one right now...)

The gem on this sample compilation would have to be a re-mastered version of Mr. Big's "Next Time Around"...  The regrouped band will be in my area of Japan one month from today and I am psyched.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Melody Gardot's second album "My One and Only Thrill" is on sale from today in Japan!
It's absolutely precious!

Check out her website too!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sakamoto Ryuichi solo piano concert @ Osaka Sankei Hall March 28th

The concert began at 4 pm.
All of the lights were dimmed...even the emergency exit lights.
I could feel the blanket of darkness and silence cover the audience, its texture, soft and cool. It was a moment to prepare our faculties of perceiving sight, sound and touch. This was the gateway into the world of Sakamoto Ryuichi.

Through the dark and quiet came the sound of trickling water. Then a deep tremor, different notes slowly vibrating. Synthesizer? Not exactly. It was mechanical yet organic. The darkness slowly gives way to a glowing halo. The darkness becomes evanescent in the light and we can finally make out the lines of a man hunched over a grand piano, not at it’s keys but at it’s strings. He looks like a mad scientist reaching into his mechanical creation, tweaking at knobs and buttons. Unaware that he is being watched.
As I am mesmerized by the plucking of piano strings, the mad scientist figure seems to evaporate, molecules of human and piano become undistinguishable. Silence brings the end of the piece Glaciers from his latest album Out of Noise.

Sakamoto relocates before the keys, stunning my ears this time with the clear timbre of the piano, gradually evolving into music.

He continues to play several pieces from his latest album and then takes time to reach for a microphone as the applause rises like a wave from behind me. I finally realize I am in the 7th row, right in the center of my isle.

Sakamoto, aka Kyouju (Professor) is used to talking about his music since he has his own radio show and is not as shy as he looks. But he does not shout or over express, it is more like a friend mumbling about the oddities of the entertainment business and the passion he has for music.

His other passion, the environment is also profiled on the screen behind him.
Pictures reduced to slits of what look like flowers or butterfly wings… mere glimpses of our Earth.  

One of my favorite pieces from his latest album is played, Hibari (Skylark).
Random notes signifying the voices of newborn larks just learning to sing. Their songs overlapping, hitting flats, wavering, not confident yet. Gradually they become more competent the skylark learns the joy to sing.

He also performed pieces that have made him the icon that he is, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Behind the Mask and the theme from the soundtrack to The Last Emperor.
A different set list can be found here.
(It is not the same as the March 28th concert although similar.)

After two encores, the lights went up and people started to leave…I was sent to another level of the building and passed into a back corridor leading to dressing rooms. A small room full of people were to be introduced to the man behind the magic.
You could see the tension but I was far from tense…it felt like I was in a dream…

When he entered the room, because of where I was standing, I became first in line to shake hands with the Professor. 
My spiel of how honored I was to meet him was rehearsed in my head in Japanese, but it came out in English. 

He lives in New York most of the time so it didn’t seem to bother him, he quickly replied in English “thank you”. 

He made his rounds, and before leaving the room, I was again standing in front of the man I admire so much, not only as a musician but as an activist as well. He said thank you to me again and I think I smiled… at least I hope I did.

For better pictures check out:

and of course please check out his website at

The following video was taken at the concert by yours truly's is not illegal! 
The piece he is playing is for a Samsung mobile phone commercial.  The audience was allowed to take videos and pictures during this one short piece.  The details are hard to see, but Sakamoto is smiling and having a good time... but at the end of this piece, he tells us how nerve racking that was!  He is a good sport. ;-)

for better sound and visual quality here is a PV...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red / Innocence & Instinct (Japan special edition)

I've been having a hard time remembering band names these days...and when the band includes, or focuses on Death Metal vocals, my memory is at a complete loss.  However, things are starting to look better for me with the band Red.
They are not a Death Metal band but some of their songs do have a bit of that "shouting".

I am happy to say I like it.  Mike Barnes, the lead vocalist has a very melodic voice that is (according to the liner notes) frequently compared with Doug Rob (Hoobastank) and Chester Bennington (Linkin Park).  

I am going to go out on a limb and add Morten Harket (A-Ha).

My conclusion: he can shout like any Death Metal singer and he can pull of country-esk folk sounds, pop, pop rock and even a ballad.  

Strong guitar, heavy bass, tight drums

Woah, currently reached track number 9 on the album and it's "Ordinary World"....yyyyeeeeesss the Duran Duran "Ordinary World".  (See, he CAN sing pop tunes)

OK, these types of covers I like to call "cheating".  Not with a venomous spit but I say so lovingly.  This is a very good song and it would be a crime if you did not play this with a certain amount of perfection.

They have chosen their next song, (number 10) "Out From Wonder" very wisely.  It is a good segue from "Ordinary World" into their own metal influenced sound.  Vocals on what sounds like an arena equalizer and then a megaphone equalizer blends in with a sad melody that crashes into a bit of death metal shouts.

The Japan special edition of their album "Innocence & Instinct" (released on March 4th) is special because:
There are two bonus tracks ... "Breathe Into Me" and an acoustic version of "Already Over".
There are also three music videos: Death of Me", "Breathe Into Me" and "Already Over".

This album gets four and a half stars out of my five star rating.